A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

How to Make Big Data Relevant and Useful

Many common themes in philanthropy today revolve around the promises of “Big Data.” Grantmakers are continually called upon to be more transparent and to share their data, but many have become cynical as past data projects failed more than a few times due to incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated data. A misunderstanding regarding how their data will be used has also contributed to the wariness many grantmakers have regarding sharing data.

We believe three critical requirements have been missing among failed data initiatives: first, a reliable and distinct benefit for those who share data, and an understanding of how it can and will be used; second, an easy way to share data; and third, data that is up-to-date and accurate.

Grants management solutions have a unique and important role to play in helping data initiatives succeed.

  • By allowing grantseeking organizations to regularly use and update their data during their normal grant cycle, inaccurate or outdated data is eliminated.
  • By making it easy to access common data sources within grants management systems, grantmakers and grantseekers alike can see, use, and benefit from data they have shared.
  • By making it easy for grantmakers and grantseekers to share and update the data found within industry standard data sources, there is no need for excessive or redundant tasks.
  • By allowing organizations to choose which information they wish to share and which information they wish to keep private, participation is encouraged.

We believe that changing how the philanthropic community views, uses, and shares data represents the next major step forward to improving the grantmaking process. We are proud to announce the release of Foundant Connect today, our partnership with GuideStar, Foundation Center, and GreatNonprofits to combine common data sources in one location for grantmakers and grantseekers to access. After years of thinking, collaborating, and discussing how to move forward, we are excited to see a first step down this new and exciting path—what we believe is the start of the newest revolution to the grantmaking process since online grant applications.

For more on sharing data and using it wisely in your philanthropy, see:

Mark LarimerMark Larimer leads the Client Services and Marketing teams at Foundant Technologies (@Foundant). Foundant—an Exponent Philanthropy Platinum Sustaining Partner—is the fastest growing company providing grants management solutions to over 600 grantmakers of all types and sizes. Mark’s high-tech career includes time with Extended Systems (acquired by Sybase) and RightNow Technologies (Nasdaq: RNOW) prior to helping to found Foundant in 2006.

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